Jeff Marx, Tony Award-winning and Grammy-nominated creator of "Avenue Q," was a guest speaker at Ignited on Wednesday, March 7. Here are some of the things we learned.
Find your passion in your bucket list.
Jeff says to find out what is really important to you, you should make a list of 100 things you want to do before you die. The first 10-15 items will be easy. After that, this exercise forces you to really think about what matters to you most. That’s how Jeff came to realize his passion for songwriting.
Guard your thoughts…sometimes from yourself.
Your mind tends to gravitate toward negative thoughts, like dwelling on a failure or repeatedly revisiting a mistake. Jeff moves on from his past mistakes by keeping those thoughts out of his mind and finding and focusing on the things that make him happy.
Take the same colors to paint your own picture.
A good idea is indeed timeless. Sometimes a new idea isn’t new at all. Jeff talks about how he was inspired by the opening scene of “The Muppet Movie” and the song “Rainbow Connection,” so he set up the opening of “Avenue Q” in a similar way. And if you listen closely, “What do you Do with a B.A. in English?” is a re-arrangement of “Rainbow Connection”!
Try something new.
You never know what you might be good at until you try it. Jeff didn’t set off to be a musical writer and composer. As a matter of fact, he was an entertainment lawyer when he started working on “Avenue Q.” He decided to take a songwriting workshop to find potential clients and, instead, he found his passion.
Separate your work from who you are.
Jeff spoke candidly about some dark times in the aftermath of failure. He realized his self-worth and overall identity was hinged on his career and its successes. Once he learned to separate work from his personal life, he enjoyed both more.
Jeff and his “Avenue Q” co-creator Robert Lopez came up with an effective way to collaborate. Instead of wasting time and energy debating the merits of an idea only one of them liked, they would only keep the ideas they both agreed were good.
Run your idea through the “Who cares?” test.
Does your idea resonate with anyone else? Would you yourself care about the idea? If the answer is no, it’s time to find a new idea.